Blog Tour Review: Wonderland: An Anthology by Various Authors
ARC Review: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Various Authors
Book Review: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke
Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.
This book was freaking amazing no amount of praise will ever do it justice. If you love YA Horror or if you’re looking for your next “make me sleep with the lights on” book, then look no farther than “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys”.
It contains 14 short stories by some of the best YA authors out there, and it definitely shows. It promises horror and thrills, and it delivers them. I haven’t ever read an anthology book before and I am glad I chose this to be my first. All of these stories were mostly enjoyable, which I think is really saying something, since you’re reading a book with 14 short stories in it. There were a couple I wasn’t overly fond of, but more often then not I loved these creeptastic stories.
At the end of each story it’s revealed where the authors drew their inspiration from, various music, books, and movies. I’ll be reviewing each story individually so buckle up kids this is gonna be a long one!
The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma
Tons of people that have read this book will say that this short was their favorite story in the entire thing. I disagree. I disagreed the minute I was done with this story, because I knew that there was no way this was the best the book had to offer. It was confusing, I honestly STILL don’t understand it. Perhaps there’s just a lot of symbolism that just “flew over” my head. Get it? Because it’s a story about birds……. anyways. The plot was a very realistic type of creepy (who doesn’t think perverts are creepy?) and there’s a bit of a supernatural twist that made it just…..weird. The story was interesting enough but it really took a turn for the worst for me, it wasn’t explained enough. It left me with tons of questions. So if any of you have read or do read this please come back and comment and let me know your thoughts, I’d love to discuss it with you!
In The Forest Dark & Deep by Carrie Ryan
Probably my favorite story in the whole book, I read Ryan’s “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” series and I loved them and so I had high hopes for this one right away. It was truly horrifying, I found myself looking over my shoulder while reading this one! It’s also pretty disturbing, a little gory, and more than a little unsettling. It also has an emotional touch, I was definitely affected by this as well. I loved the sentiment of “not all monsters are filled with darkness”. The ending really comes full circle and it wasn’t as confusing for me as “Birds”. For me, “In The Forest Dark & Deep” was the scariest story in the entire anthology.
Emmeline by Cat Winters
When I started reading this story I had no idea how it fit into this book, then it hit me half way through, there’s a bit of a paranormal twist. “Emmeline” isn’t creepy, scary, or gory at all. It’s just sort of…disquieting. It was also very quick to read through, not one of my favorites but still very entertaining. The writing was beautiful and the atmosphere was haunting, Cat Winters does creepy historical-fiction extremely well. It’s more of a sad romance than a horror story, it’s a little emotional, you definitely feel a pang of sympathy for Emmeline.
Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo
This one was very entertaining to read through although I found the horror aspect to be somewhat lacking. The story revolved around the lives of the characters more than anything, so a lot of it was gossip. The ending was almost abrupt and I felt I really didn’t understand how it happened or why. Certain things are brought up throughout the story but are never revisited to show why they MATTERED in the story. Still had a creepy moment or two, and one of the better shorts in this anthology, even though it left me feeling a little vexed.
Hide-And-Seek by Megan Shepherd
“Don’t expect death to play by the rules.”
This one along with “In the Forest Dark & Deep” are tied for my number one favorite story in the whole book. It is absolutely engrossing, “Hide-And-Seek” focuses on a folktale that revolves around Death. A girl who dies must play a game against Death to win her life back, sound interesting? It is. For a short story the mythology within it is FULLY explained, it was very well built and keeps you informed throughout. Now the inspiration for this particular story is a very clever horror movie, therefore making this story VERY clever and creative. The ending was fantastic everything is explained and resolved nicely, I was completely satisfied. Definitely one of the best reads in “Slasher Girls & Monster Boys”.
The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige
I didn’t enjoy this one, even though it wasn’t TOO horrible to force my way through. This story wasn’t even really horror at all, it also lacked any kind of creepy or dark atmosphere. Mostly it’s a bunch of high school mean girl-ness with a supernatural love interest, it’s the dullest story in the ENTIRE BOOK. One thing I did like was the (very) small inclusion of Greek mythology, such as the tale of Hades and Persephone. Our MC wasn’t complex, twisted, or even vaguely interesting compared to other MCs in the book, she’s pretty much a Mary-Sue. Not a fan of this story.
The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke
I think I disliked this one even more than Paige’s story (above), it’s by far one of the least enjoyable stories. Basically the entire thing is about a bunch of douchebag teenagers, seriously, they’re the worst sort of people. They’re all extremely unlikable, you will not give a crap what happens to them at all, hopefully that was Tucholke’s point because if it was she nailed it. If that wasn’t bad enough it’s also PAINFULLY obvious what two horror movies this story draws its “inspiration” from. I put quotes over that because it isn’t so much inspiration as much as it’s taking the two plots of the movies and mashing them together, it’s practically like watching both movies play out in one. There’s nothing new or added it’s the exact same, which was super irritating because it just wasn’t that original.
Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry
I’m starting to think of Maberry as becoming a bit of a one trick pony, it was so predictable what horror element he was going to bring to the table. Zombies. His story wasn’t scary, or creepy, and it was kind of lacking the overall mood the other stories set. Mostly it focused on your typical high school drama, bullying, and mean girls. However, what the story lacked for in outright horror and scariness it made up for in our MC, Dahlia. She’s a high school “fat girl” but she doesn’t lay down and take shit from anyone, she’s a very strong character. Dahlia was so much fun to read about and she’s what really drove the story. I’d give her an A+ but unfortunately I wouldn’t for the rest of this story.
Sleepless by Jay Kristoff
Brilliant, creepy, and a very captivating story. “Sleepless” is definitely one of my other favorite stories in this book. It starts out a little slow and tedious, but trust me when you get a little further into it it gets downright intense. Also as you read through you’ll probably notice right away the similarities between this story and a very classic horror movie. There’s a couple of twists throughout and you won’t see them coming, I know I didn’t. Now I can’t say too much without giving away the twists but this is certainly one of the better stories in the book, it fits the overall themes perfectly.
M by Stefan Bachmann
This one, to me, didn’t really fit in with the rest of the stories, I didn’t find myself horrified or creeped out at all. Although with the inclusion of a blind narrator the overall atmosphere is very well developed, it’s an eerie feeling on its own. There’s nothing supernatural here, so it really wasn’t very engaging for me. I don’t understand why it was selected to be in this book, it’s surely the odd one out. “M” is more of a murder mystery than anything else, not really impressive to me.
The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu
I found this story to be a bit of a disappointment, it was 100% me and not the story though. I was expecting it to be the most terrifying thing I’ve ever read just because of the title. “The Girl Without a Face” that just SCREAMS horrifying, right? However, it was scary enough to be enjoyable, for me. It took a bit of a psychological turn and I hated that, I just wanted a good old fashioned REAL monster and it would have been so much scarier because we can’t EXPLAIN a real monster. But someone who did bad things? We can justify them being haunted by their mistakes. Therefore I was disappointed, I wasn’t getting my pants scared off it felt more like I was being taught a lesson in morals and karma. Still, I liked this story and it had a pretty high creep factor going on and a GREAT ending.
A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman
This one is hard to review because it’s also hard to explain. I’m not even sure I knew what was actually going on towards the end. The story starts slow but finishes with a bang, the characters all fell pretty short and weren’t interesting at all. They did, however, talk about “night creatures” stalking them through the wilderness and that was enough to get me excited. There was a pretty interesting back story explaining the actions of the characters and that ,for me, is what really made the story. The night creatures were really the best part though, they sounded so creepy.
Stitches by A.G. Howard
“Stitches” started out strong and ended the same way, it grabs your attention right away and holds onto it until the story is over. It’s gory, graphic, and full of surprises. There are a few moments that are actually very touching and emotional, which is a BIG surprise in a story that’s so gruesome. Caution to those of you who are a bit squeamish!
On the I-5 by Kendare Blake
I love Blake’s writing style in “Anna Dress in Blood” and it shows the same in this short story. There’s a twist or two that ended up not being all that surprising after reading an entire book full of them. It would have been better off being placed earlier in the book. Still a very compelling story with a bit of a paranormal angle.
So in the end “Slasher Girls & Monster Boys” is a fantastic read and I HIGHLY recommend it. See if you can pick it up this Halloween (coming up), I guarantee you’re in for some scares!